Monday, April 29, 2013

Caramel Week: Caramel Apple Pie

Iiittt'ssss..... CARAMEL WEEK!!

I have to admit that while caramels have been my favorite addition to chocolate for as long as I can remember (Rolos and Milky Ways were GOLD at Halloween). Recently, the hubster and I took a mini-vacation to a nearby mountain town, Leavenworth, WA. The town is just adorable - it's a Bavarian style village that always has string lights up and a decorated tree, year-round. While it's not for everyone, it's one of our favorite little get-away spots - close to some other friends, and just far enough away to give us a break. Do you have any spots like that??

On this recent trip, we found a chocolate shop we'd never found before: Schocolat. We tried some incredibly delicious, hand-made treats. In addition to the lovely chocolates (my favorite was an earl grey truffle - WHAT??), they also make a chocolate sauce and a caramel sauce. But the caramel sauce was not your ho-hum-run-of-the-mill jarred caramel sauce. Oh no. It is a scratch-made pear cinnamon caramel sauce. You can even buy if for yourself here (scroll down near the bottom).

The sauce was incredibly complex and, at first, I was at a loss with what to do with it. There are obvious things like drizzling on ice cream (which I don't eat), in hot cocoa, on the tops of cakes... But for the first treat that popped into my head was a caramel dutch apple pie. While I'm not great at crusts, I didn't want to risk a top AND bottom going wonky, so I chose a crumble topping, instead. This dough did not come together recipe - so if you have dough that works well for you, I suggest you go with what you know.

I demand pie, as well. K, thanks.
I really enjoy the extra salt in the crumble topping to offset the added sweetness the caramel adds. Any caramel sauce would be excellent in this pie, as well - jarred or scratch-made. The pie itself I adapted from a caramel apple pie recipe from Tyler Florence. The serving size for a heaping 9" pie is 4-6 servings. I laughed and laughed when I read that. Eight servings would be the minimum, based on how I normally eat pie. I ate one slice, gave two to Megan, then told the hubster he could eat at will. Within 18 hours (lunch the next day), there was one teensy sliver left. He managed to consume over half the pie as breakfast and lunch, meaning the suggestion of 6 serving sizes was eerily accurate.

I wouldn't recommend that two people consume an entire pie within 24 hours... but it happened. Good news: hubster actually liked a recipe. Bad news: he consumed the equivalent to a stick of butter on his own. He doesn't see a problem with this, though (maybe also a problem?). Looks like I'm going to have to better moderate his dessert portions...

In addition to this beautiful pie, a bunch of my closest blogging buddies are also participating and creating some delicious creamy caramel alternatives:
  • Friday--Country Cleaver-Pear Caramel Mini Cheesecakes / Munching in the Mitten-Caramel Cake

  • Caramel Apply Pie

    Adapted from Tyler Florence and 365 Days of Baking & More
    1/2 recipe of your favorite pie crust (or the one from Tyler Florence) - let it rest in the fridge while continuing

    Prepare about 1/2 cup of caramel sauce (either store bought as I did or homemade). Set aside.

    3/4 cup light brown sugar
    1/2 cup flour
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    3 Tablespoons melted butter

    1 lemon, halved
    8 Granny Smith Apples (or a combination of your favorites)
    1 Tablespoon flour
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

    1. In  a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, four, and cinnamon. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and use a fork or your fingers to cut together until well incorporated. Set aside.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350* F. 
    3. Fill a large bowl with cool water and squeeze the lemon into the water. Peel and core each apple and slice thinly by hand or with a mandolin. Add the slices to the water (the lemon prevents browning so you don't have to rush!)
    4. On a well-floured surface, roll out your dough and press into a 9" pie pan.
    5. Drain the apples and sprinkle with flour and cinnamon. Toss to make sure they're all coated.
    6. Place one layer of apples in the dough. Dollop caramel all over the apples, then put another layer of apples over the caramel. Repeat until you run out of apples and and caramel. Dot the top of the pie with the remaining 1/4 cup butter.
    7. Press the crumble over the top of the pie.
    8. Place the pie on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until top is deep golden brown.
    9. Let the pie cool, then serve. It may be hard to resist - but cooling will REALLY help with cutting!
    10. Enjoy!

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    April OKMH

    It's that time again!

    It was a very happy month! Mostly because Allison really embraced my nerdom and spent so much lovely time on mine! I don't have much to say on it because there was so very much squeeling and screaming during the opening process. Megan helped with many of the photos, so there's a lot of my face squeeling, as well.

    For starters there was a hilarious cat card. Who doesn't love static cats?

    Then I had a little jamming karaoke time with a highly realistic microphone that was HAND CRAFTED just for me by a certain lovely 4 year old.

    And then, squeeling of all squeels... where... here's the video.

    I was excited. For those who can't understand the video... she made me a scarf. Which is an EXACT. REPLICA. Of the 4th Doctor Who's scarf!!! And if you don't watch The Doctor, we can't even be friends anymore. Okay, fine, we can be friends, but I'm going to talk about it a lot and try to get you to watch it ALL. THE. TIME. So buckle up.

    I also got some of these (also hand crafted just for ME) - TARDIS coasters. The drink is bigger on the inside.

    And to keep in theme with our shared interest in #catsarejerk (Because... obviously.) So Allison also sent an adorable, hand-made Jewish kitty that I can vent to about my jerky cats (who have most recently eaten a foam roller for my running stretches...).

    Finally, this woman knows her audience. She handmade a whole mess of class mustached disguises to warm my upper lip on my chilly runs. Believe me, my clever disguises might confuse you, but that's actually me in every snap below!! (gasp)

    And not pictured because I eated it all... a homemade assortment of lemon and raspberry marshmallow and some prickly pear jammy jam (GET IN MAI BELLY).

    Thank you SO MUCH to my friend Allison for sending me so many incredible treats. 

    Check out my "box" to Megan here.
    Check out Mads' reveal from Megan here.
    Check out Jeanne's reveal from Mads here.
    Check out Kat's reveal from Jeanne here.
    Check out Kirsten's reveal from Kat here.
    And check out Allison's reveal from Kirsten here!

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

    All The Feels!

    As you may have seen from my previous post, I was in Israel last month. Not for the whole month, but for 10 days in the middle. Writing about my time has been a battle, and I've refused to write about anything else in the meantime, which is a silly rule and I should just move on. But also delayed in part because I couldn't decide how much you all (some friends and some interweb followers) really wanted to know about my travels.

    I saw and felt and tasted many things. However, as I finally down to describe my journey, I am still so outrageously hurt by the events of this week that I decided to break my original lengthy post into two shorter ones. I ate many things. I will talk about those later. For now... The Feels.